Aidan O’Brien landed his 12th Irish Derby win as Capri under Seamie Hefferman got the better of British hope Cracksman and his English Derby hero Wings Of Eagles in a thriller.
With five entries in a field of nine, O’Brien’s horses dominated the race over the one and-a-half mile trip at the rain-softened going at The Curragh – officially good to yielding – on Saturday.
The Anvil under the trainer’s daughter Ana O’Brien set the pace early, followed by Capri, Douglas Macathur, Taj Mahal and Wings Of Eagles occupying the first five places.
The John Gosden-trained Cracksman under Pat Smullen finished third last with the French raider Waldgeist ridden by Jean Pierre-Charles Boudot and Godolphin’s Dubai Sand, trained in Ireland by Jim Bolger, bringing up the rear.
Hefferman moved to the lead a long way from home and the challenge was one as they approached the two-furlong marker, with Wings Of Eagles coming through the middle and Cracksman on the outside.
But the grey son of Galileo kept finding Hefferman as they flashed past the wining post to prevail by a neck and short head.
Capri was sixth at Epsom in the race won by Wings Of Eagles, with Cracksman in third place four weeks ago.
“He's tough and has been running in good races so I was confident I had the ammunition,” said Hefferman, collecting his third Irish Derby title after the back-to-back victories Soldier Of Fortune and Frozen Fire in 2007 and 2008.
“It's a nice surprise but Aidan trains them from race to race, to keep improving and they usually do.”
Elsewhere at Newcastle, Godolphin’s Natural Scenery was edged out by Higher Power in the 135th running of the Northumberland Plate Handicap run over two miles and half-a-furlong.
Josephine Gordon, the 2016 champion apprentice, had Natural Scenery ahead for a couple of strides but Tom Queally on the James Fanshaw-trained five-year-old gelding battled back to clinch victory by half a length.
Gordan had come into the race having won her first Group race onboard the Hugo Palmer-trained Koropick.